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While I was writing a status update today on social media I decided to do some grammar-learning. The status update was "Happy Labor Day everyone!" and I am now wondering if I should place a comma between "Day" and "everyone?" My grammar skills aren't great, and this may be staring me right in the face as I'm thinking about it, but researching on the web and Stack Exchange hasn't brought up the case yet. Help would be much appreciated.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, FumbleFingers meaning Sep 2 '14 at 13:06

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    Normally, the answer to this question depends on the audience. There isn't any particular reason to include the comma for clarity purposes. It would appear to be unnecessary to pause when spoken. Random twitter post begs to differ. Whether you'd consider that authoritative is up to you. – SrJoven Sep 1 '14 at 19:29
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    Doubtless some people would be able to find a 'rule' demanding or prohibiting the comma there. Then others would find a 'rule' saying the opposite. I'd tweak SrJoven's answer to say that there is no need for a comma to disambiguate syntax. Therefore, many people would say that you're quite free to use a comma to signal a pause, or not, as you wish. Note that the comma would come within, not at the end of, the quote: I've adjusted your question. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 1 '14 at 19:45
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    A better duplicate example except that the answers all show specific examples where it's really bad not to include the comma (Let's eat, John vs Let's eat John) but even given that, there's no followup when pressed the difference between (my term) vowel comma (Let's [verb], John) and (my term) interjection/greeting comma (Happy ___/Hi/Dear). But then again, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown and you see that it's needed because you're not saying it as a prefix to Charlie Brown's name: He's not Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. – SrJoven Sep 3 '14 at 10:33

Yes! Necessary but declining in popularity. It's called a "vocative" comma, and it saves the reader from a double take in situations like "Awesome pants, Bill!" vs. "Awesome Pants Bill!" (noting the arrival of Bill, who is widely known and titled by his awesome pants).



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    The classic example is the murder-preventing comma: 'We're going to eat, Bob' vs 'We're going to eat Bob'. But it's not necessary for disambiguation in OP's example. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 1 '14 at 19:52
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    Ha! Much, much better than mine. I agree, the comma in the question is not absolutely necessary for disambiguation, but it helps to disambiguate on the fly (i.e., I have to think less as I'm reading if that comma is there). – idunno Sep 1 '14 at 19:55
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    But when no disambiguation is necessary, there's no need for the comma as we're not in 19th C England. We can go without a comma every other word :-) "Thanks John!" or "Hello Jane!" will never be misunderstood. – guifa Sep 1 '14 at 20:03
  • By that logic, though, you could just omit whatever punctuation wasn't absolutely necessary in each particular context -- which would make things far more unpleasant, or at least slower, to read. Punctuation like those commas make it clear as you're reading, not just once you're done with the sentence. Extra clarity doesn't hurt, and it makes life nicer for the reader. Plus, it's correct. Which, unless you're being absolutist about descriptivism, is still nice until it becomes totally anachronistic. – idunno Sep 3 '14 at 3:15

A comma to pause or separate?

To pause, no need at all. If to separate, which word or words?

Your status is good my dear. 'Happy Labor Day everyone!'

  • Though one is preferable in 'Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 2 '14 at 8:35

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